I can hardly believe my twin daughters are turning 10 this month. It blows my mind that my babies have grown so much (in fact my youngest “baby” is now 4), and that I have been parenting for a decade.
As you know, parenting is an emotionally and physically intense marathon that cannot really be described in words. From the beginning, there were challenges I never expected.
At first, it was the struggle of dealing with a problematic pregnancy. Then it was the terrifying experience of caring for two tiny little baby girls whose weights were well under 5 lbs. Beyond all that, reflux, colic, difficulty with nearly every baby “milestone,” and months upon months of broken sleep certainly took their toll on both my husband and me.
Despite the fact that I was happy and grateful for my blessed life as a mom, after a year or two I began to realize two things:
1) I woke up each day feeling hugely inadequate for my job and,
2) I went to bed each night feeling like I had missed the mark, under-performed and somehow failed.
I felt like I needed to make a big change, but I didn’t know what that change was.
Everyday of my mothering journey, I have felt more or less defeated, overwhelmed and desperate for some way to improve the results of my efforts. I worked so hard, yet always felt like I was missing some kind of “secret” that would allow me to succeed at my job.
The reality was, I had basically been in survival mode for my entire parenting career. And during those years, I tried lots of things in an attempt to figure out what was missing. I read books, articles, and blogs. I pinned charts, moved furniture, tried different meal plans and switched up our schedule and diet. At times I ran across ideas that seemed like they would really help, but for some reason I either couldn’t implement them or couldn’t maintain them.
At some point, I read a book that really resonated and stuck with me: Simplicity Parenting. Here are some of the main takeaways:
- Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
- Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
- Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
- Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation.
I didn’t fully understand it, but the ideas from Simplicity Parenting really spoke to me and I kept coming back to them. Somewhere in the same time frame (probably 6-8 years ago), I first ran across the idea of minimalism.
Fast forward to 2016.
Almost overnight, something clicked in my brain and I knew I discovered the change I had been looking for. Minimalism was the direction I wanted to take our family.
It couldn’t have been more of a drastic turn-around for someone who shopped multiple times a week and spent free moments blogging about deals and bargains. I began purging stuff at a break-neck speed and voraciously reading and listening to all the media on minimalism I could find.
It’s now a few months into my official minimalism journey and I have a lot to say about this process.
I discovered my maternal optimism, and no longer feel helpless and defeated as a mom. This mindset shift gave me a freedom I never thought I could experience. I now have a clear vision for our future that I know will work, regardless of where circumstances lead us. For the first time in a long time I feel satisfied with my home and content in my circumstances. I don’t need more to be happy, and as a result, a load of stress has been lifted from my shoulders. I literally feel physically lighter.
Minimalism has given me HOPE.
Suddenly, all those great parenting and household tips I was planning and pinning actually feel attainable. My goals feel clarified. Even my mind is de-cluttered. No lie: I even finally lost some weight I have been battling with for a year or so.
Minimalism isn’t a cure for all problems, but I truly think almost everyone could benefit from some form of minimalism. I couldn’t be happier with where these changes have led my family. I am still very much in the midst of this process, but the benefits have already been very apparent to all of us.
Minimalism is somewhat of a “fad” now, but I want to shout from the rooftops that it is worth pursuing. Don’t give up on this hard journey of motherhood. Keep fighting for your maternal optimism.
Above all, be brave and honest with yourself: could a simple but major change make all the difference in your family’s future? Is it possible that less stuff could bring more joy?
If you are interested in learning more about minimalism I highly recommend these titles in addition to Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, The More of Less by Joshua Becker, and The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.